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1. THE history of the organ is nothing more than a narrative of the efforts made by men to bring under the control of one performer a large number of the instruments called flutes.
2. The particular sort of pipe or flute the use of which led eventually to the construction of an organ. was the flûte â bec or beak-flute; that is to say, a pipe with a mouthpiece which was placed against the lips for the purpose of receiving the breath of the player.
3. A penny whistle (tin or wood) is probably a very familiar instrument to our readers, and is a veritable specimen of a flûte â bec. The now almost obsolete
flageolet flageolet
is also of the same family How little difference there is between a penny whistle and an organ-pipe can be seen by the accompanying illustrations
Fig 1
Fig - 1 :- penny whistle
Fig 2
Fig - 2 :- organ-pipe
When a flute was so constructed that it was blown at a hole in the side; like our modern orchestral instrument or ordinary flute, it was termed a flauto traverso or "flute held sideways."
flauto traverso

Fig - 3
It would, of course, not be possible for a performer to play more than one flauto traverso at a time ; all the efforts of musicians were therefore concentrated on bringing several flûte â bec or beak-flute under control.
4. It was soon found that two such instruments could easily be played by one person. This seems to have been known to almost all ancient nations. The figure below is from an Egyptian monument.
Fig 4

Fig - 4
The old-fashioned double flageolet is a real ancient "double flute," although the tubes are, for convenience' sake, brought closer together than was the case in the older instruments. The pretty effect of the two-part harmony of the "double flute" urged men on towards the construction of an organ.

5. The next step in organ-building was to place several flutes on end over a box of wind, supplied not by human lungs; but by bellows. This is well illustrated by a figure copied from Kircher's "Musurgia'."
Fig 5

Fig - 5

The pipes in the above instrument (Fig. 5) were made to speak or be silent at the will of the player, by pulling backwards or forwards pieces of wood, the ends of which either closed up the foot of a pipe or allowed the wind to enter it.
6. As the number of pipes increased, the number of blowers necessarily became larger. The following illustration from a Saxon Psalter exhibits this :
Fig 6

Fig - 6

7. Bellows in those times were of very primitive form, in fact not in any way superior to a common blacksmith's bellows as used to this day in the forge.
Men soon discovered that the weight of the body might with advantage relieve the muscles of the arm of the laborious duty of constant pumping. They constructed bellows of such form that men could stand on them, The following was found on the Theodosian Obelisk at Constantinople :
Fig 7

Fig - 7

Hence, the blower was often called the "bellows-treader" (Balgentreter). This system of blowing has lasted up to the present time, and those who have any curiosity on this subject will still find in many Continental churches, in some dark corner, a man busily engaged in mounting on first one and then another of several sets of feeders, and forcing the air into the bellows by his weight, as if he were undergoing punishment at a musical tread-mill.

8, The flutes hitherto spoken of have been those in which the tone is produced by forcing air against a sharp edge of wood or metal called the "lip," and by this means setting the column of air inside into vibration. But the word "flute" or "pipe" anciently included a pipe of very different construction, namely, a reed-pipe that is, a pipe in which a tongue of metal or wood is so placed that, as air is blown into the tube, the tongue, partly barring its passage, beats backwards and forwards, and by its vibration sets the column of air inside the tube into synchronous vibration. The examination of an oboe or bassoon will make the action of a reed quite clear. Thus it has come to pass that to this day these two classes of "flutes" or pipes are found in organs; those corresponding to the common whistle family being called flue-pipes, while those of the oboe type are called reed-pipes.

9. The next step in organ-making was the invention of the clavier or key-board, about the close of the eleventh century. At first keys were of the most clumsy description (Fig. 8), so large and broad that nothing short of a blow from the clenched fist could act upon the leverage. Hence in these early times the player was called an organ-beater (Pulsator organorum). It is recorded that the interval of a fifth occupied about the same space as an octave in our modern instruments.
Fig 8

Fig 8

10. Then little by little the keys were improved in shape until they became much like our modern keys, the only difference between them being that the old sets were much shorter (from back to front), and the sharp keys were white and the natural keys were black, the reverse of our modern colours.

11. The invention of pedals or keys for the feet, early in the fifteenth century, was probably the most It is unnecessary to say here how grand and thrilling is the effect Important Step ever made in organ-building. Of the tone of those enormous pipes thus placed under the command of the performer, or how the independent use of the pedals gives the organist a source of harmony not possessed by any other instrument.
Pedal-keys seem to have been very quickly brought to a considerable degree of perfection in Germany, where their compass soon reached or even exceeded two octaves. But in England the introduction of pedal- boards of full compass was extremely tardy ; indeed it may be said not to have commenced until fifty years ago. (note, comment written in 1877)

12. When only one row of pipes was placed over the box of wind the mechanism of an organ was simple enough, because each key pulled down a sort of pallet or piece of wood covered with leather placed under the foot of each pipe. As long as the key was held down the air rushed through the hole into the pipe and made it speak, but as soon as the key was allowed to return to its position the pallet returned by means of a spring to its place below the pipe and shut off the supply of wind. But it was discovered that if a thin slip of wood be placed (running from right to left) under the row of pipes, having perforations corresponding to the holes in which the pipes stand, the whole row Of pipes could be made silent by shifting this sliding piece of wood either to the right or left so far that the perforations no longer corresponded with the holes in which the pipes stood. Even when the keys are pressed down no sound will be produced until this sliding-slip, or slider, is moved into such a position that its perforations are exactly under the feet of the pipes.
13. These sliders are now acted upon by levers called stops, and it is by their means that several rows of pipes of different qualities of tone, and also of pitch, can be placed over the same box of wind and yet be selected at will by the performer.

14. The admirable capabilities of the organ for supporting vocal music, and the solemn dignity of its character, have always led to its association with divine worship. But the broad and strong qualities of tone found useful for sustaining the voices of a large congregation were not found delicate enough for the accompaniment of a highly trained choir either when singing individually or in a body. Hence the construction of an independent organ of soft and delicate tone called the Choir Organ, the keys of which were placed either immediately above or below the louder organ, to which last was given the name Great Organ. The keys of the Choir Organ are more often below those of the Great Organ than above, and the pipes of the former are often, especially in cathedrals, placed on brackets projecting over the screen behind the player's back. In such cases the mechanism connecting the keys with the pallets and pipes had to pass below the organist's feet, under the pedal keys, and it was called in German a Rückpostiv.
Two sorts of small organs had been in public and private use, namely, the Portative or "portable organ," so called because it could be carried about in processions, and the Positif or "organ in position," so named in contradistinction, under the impression that it was not portable.
Fig 9
Fig 9 :- Positive organ
Fig 10
Fig 10 :- Portative organ
Fig 11
Fig 11 :- Portative organ
But, as a matter of fact, these positifs or "organs in position" were sufficiently portable to be moved from place to place with comparative ease, although they were really larger than the Portatives.
Organ-builders found in these soft, sweet-toned Positifs an excellent model for the organ required for choir accompaniment. Hence Choir Organs were not only built with the same sort of tone and of much the same dimensions as positifs, but were actually called Positifs, a name which they bear to this day in France and Germany.
15. The "Echo Organ" was a small organ, often of limited compass, the pipes of which were shut up in a box and placed at a distance from the rest of the instrument. Echo Organs are sometimes made now. In most instruments their place is taken by the "Swell." The gradual alteration of an "Echo" into a "Swell" organ was, like many other vast improvements in organ-building, due to English workers. Abraham Jordan, in the year 1712, made the front of an echo-organ box to move up and down in grooves at the side like a window-sash. The mechanism for raising the front board or shutter was of a very unwieldy character, and the pedal which set it in motion offered great resistance to the foot. It also happened frequently, that on permitting the shutter to return to its place (by raising the pedal), this heavy panel of wood ran down with an unpleasantly loud bang.
This old form was called a "nag's-head" swell. But this method of obtaining a "swelling organ," as it was called, was in time superseded by a set of overlapping shutters known as the "Venetian" swell, so called because of its similarity to a common outdoor blind.
Fig 12
Fig 12
Fig 13
Fig 13
It is quite impossible to arrange an account of all the improvements in organ-building in chronological order. Progress and inventions overlapped each other, and very often the results of successful experiments were not generally known and utilised till long after their first discovery.
16. It is, however, quite certain that no great advance in the construction of the instrument was possible until the bellows were improved. This portion of the mechanism is of as vital importance to an organ as are lungs to a human being; as long therefore as no better means of supplying an organ with wind than the simple forge-bellows was known, progress was completely barred. The faults of such old bellows must be known to all. As the handle is pressed down and the bellows is made to fill, all the pressure which the top of the bellows exerted is negatived. If one such bellows supplied an organ, the player would be compelled to take his hands off the keys on each occasion on which it was being filled. If the reader cannot quite understand this account of defects of the old forge or "diagonal" bellows, he can easily make an experiment which will fully explain what has been said ; let him take a common kitchen-fire bellows and insert the mouthpiece of a penny whistle into its orifice and bind both round with leather so that the air passing from the bellows must enter the whistle, and then let him ask a friend to blow while he plays tunes. The defects of diagonal bellows will no longer be doubted.
Nor were these faults remedied by having a large number of such bellows and then supplying the organ only from those which were full ; because, when a bellows of this kind is full, the weight of the top and sides is spread over the whole atmospheric contents, but as the air becomes exhausted this weight remains equal while the contents grow less ; the Pressure of the outgoing air is therefore increased.
Two improvements made towards the close of the last century, by Green, remedied all these shortcomings. The old diagonal bellows was made into a feeder, and had another bellows placed over it, so that the two together formed a feeder and sort of reservoir. A peep at the bellows of a modern organ will show that the pressure of wind, for obvious reasons, does not vary with the movement of the feeder. The modern bellows are termed horizontal to distinguish them from their forerunners; and notwithstanding the fact that no "diagonal" bellows have for a considerable period been made in this country, organ-builders still promise that they will supply their customers with "horizontal" bellows.
One other improvement only was needed to make bellows perfect. It was necessary to remedy the defect before alluded to, namely, the inequality of the pressure as the top fell. This was ingeniously done by making one fold of the bellows turn outwards while the other turned inwards. This arrangement of the folds can be clearly seen in the next illustration.

Fig 14
Fig 14

17. The counter-balances are pieces of iron attached to the upper, middle, and bottom boards of bellows for the purpose of making a and b, Fig. 15, open equally. Their use is a marked improvement in organ-construction.
Fig 15
Fig 15

18. In old organs it was found that the simultaneous sounding of several of the large pipes on the
manuals caused a "jumpy" and unsteady effect—a sure sign that the equality of pressure was disturbed, first by the sudden demand on the resources of the wind-chest, next by the rush of air to take the place of that already used. The accompanying ingenious invention of Bishop, the organ-builder, about fifty years ago, entirely removed this. He placed a small single bellows (a b) against the wind-trunk near the sound-board, the outer side of which was balanced by a spring (c). When a sudden demand is made upon the wind and the pressure is consequently reduced, this spring (c) by proportionately forcing in the side of the bellows (d) counteracts the defect. These little bellows are called " concussion- bellows."
19. The player had still to contend with the serious inconvenience of being compelled to make any alterations in the arrangement of the stops by drawing them in or out with his hands. A great boon was therefore conferred upon organists by the introduction of small iron pedals placed within easy reach of the feet, which by a system of leverage could draw out certain groups of stops. This method of changing stops has been vastly improved upon by Mr. Henry Willis, who, after many years of patient study, has perfected a system of "combination pistons." They are small round ivory or brass buttons placed on the flat strips of wood between the manuals. When pressed with the thumb or any available finger of the performer, these pistons act upon little bellows of compressed air which, as they expand, push groups of stops in or out by appropriate leverage. The convenience of this clever mechanical contrivance cannot be overrated.
The system of arranging sets of stops on different sound-boards and giving the organist little pedals, by the forcing down of which the air is cut off from the different sets of stops, is known as the "ventil system." Those who are best competent to judge of its worth are convinced that it is inferior both to "composition pedals" and "combination pistons," and it is to be regretted that in certain quarters an attempt is being made to re-introduce it under the false notion that because it is still in existence in some parts of the Continent it is therefore superior to the latest inventions of English builders.
20. Perhaps nothing tended to prevent the organ from being a popular or generally attractive instrument to students so much as the extreme weight or "stiffness" of the touch. For the remarkable invention which removed this disagreeable part of an organist's labour an Englishman also has to be credited. Mr. Barker, about the year 1832, made a small bellows for each manual key, so arranged and constructed that when a key was pressed down the compressed air raised the top of the bellows. To the top of this bellows was attached the weight of the whole action to the pallet. When the manual key was allowed to rise, the little bellows was emptied through a waste valve and fell into its position of rest. The fingers of organists have, therefore, in these days only to move the small pallet or valve which admits compressed air into the pneumatic bellows, and thus are able to throw on to these active little supporters the labour of working all those numerous portions of mechanism which reach up to the pallet in the wind-chest. One of the most important advantages of the pneumatic lever is that ciphering is much less frequent. This fact is thus accounted for : when no pneumatic lever is used the organ-builder strives to render his touch light by reducing the strength of his springs to a minimum ; any change in the weather or other disturbing influence is liable therefore to make the springs unable to do their duty, and a cipher is the result. Whereas, when the pneumatic lever is attached to an organ, the builder, having no scruples as to the work he is giving to his compressed air, strengthens his springs and thus prevents accidents. The electric communication between manuals and pallets is receiving great attention from several builders who are striving to bring it to perfection.
Tubular-pneumatic action in its earliest form was used by Mr. Joseph Booth in the year 1827 for the lower pipes of the 8-ft. Great Open Diapason. These pipes were placed on a separate wind-chest, and the conveyances, instead of conveying wind to the pipe-feet, were used to actuate "puff-valves," which allowed the pipes to have a direct supply of wind.
In the year 1868 Mr. Henry Willis patented a tubular-pneumatic draw-stop action which was used by him in many large organs, and in 1871 he applied pneumatic action to the pedal organ at the Royal Albert Hall, wood grooves being used instead of tubes. One year later the organ at St. Paul's Cathedral was divided, and the Swell, Choir and Pedal organs with their draw-stops were played by this system.
Since that date many ingenious minds have worked out a great variety of tubular-pneumatic actions, and the illustrations on pages 23 and 24 show two of the most successful systems.
Electro-pneumatic action, as first used in England, was invented by Mr. C. S. Barker (inventor of the pneumatic lever) in 1868, and applied by Messrs. Bryceson Bros. to several organs in London and the provinces. Previously Dr. H. J. Gauntlett took out a patent for an electric action without the aid of pneumatics, but owing to the large amount of current required it was not generally used. In 1881 Mr. F. W. Schmolle patented a system by which a small low-volt magnet with a hinged armature actuated a primary pneumatic motor ; and in 1885 Mr. James Walker exhibited in the Inventions Exhibition an organ on this principle. In 1890 Mr. Hope Jones introduced a low-volt magnet with a detached armature and multiple seating, which has since been improved by Messrs. Norman & Beard, Ltd.
21. The variety of tone produced by modern organ-builders is extraordinary. The discovery by the French builders that organ-pipes, made twice their proper length and perforated with a small hole in the middle of the tube, produced a fine rich tone, has led to the universal adoption of "harmonic" stops as they are called; simultaneously with this a high pressure of wind has been applied to many important stops, both "reed" and "flue" (and especially to "harmonic" stops), thereby adding largely not only to the varieties of tone of which the instrument is capable, but also to the grandeur and sublimity of its full power. 22. Enough has been said to give the reader a fair notion of the progressive improvements in organ- building from the earliest time to the present day. There are those, however, who claim great antiquity not only for a simply constructed instrument but also for organs of a complicated structure. Thus the magrepha, though not mentioned in the Bible, is described in the Talmud as an organ with ten keys and ten pipes to each key, of very powerful tone, used in the Temple of Jerusalem. Other authors assert that organs with four, six, or eight stops were in use before the Christian era. But the word organ is so very generally applicable in its meaning of an appliance or mechanical contrivance that it cannot be a matter for surprise that it has, from time to time, been given to musical instruments differing from each other not only in capabilities but in structure. The word organ as used in the Bible for a translation of ugab or huggab must not be thought to imply any complicated or large instrument. The expression a "pair of organs" found in old writers merely signifies a complete set of pipes, just as we still say "a pair of stairs," Etc.
The Tremulant is probably of French origin ; but it must have been known in England as early as 1606 as the organ built in that year by Dallam for King's College, Cambridge, possessed a "shaking stoppe." It is an apparatus for imparting to the sound of any portion of the organ to which it may be applied a waving or undulating effect, resembling the vibrato in singing or the tremolando on stringed instruments.

Extract:- Novelos Music Primer No3.
By J. Stainer
Edited by John E. West